Parole denied for notorious killer, rapist Paul Bernardo
Published Tuesday, June 22, 2021 5:18AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 22, 2021 4:01PM EDT
The families of the victims of Paul Bernardo, who was denied parole today for the second time in three years, say the notorious killer and rapist should not be allowed to apply for release so frequently as it forces them to constantly relive the trauma of his disturbing and horrific crimes.
The Parole Board of Canada took less than an hour to render a decision at today’s hearing for Bernardo, denying him both full and day parole. It was the same conclusion that was reached after about 30 minutes of deliberations at his last hearing in the fall of 2018.
Bernardo, who has been deemed a dangerous offender, has been in prison since 1995 after he was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of 14-year old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French, two teens he kidnapped, tortured and killed near St. Catharines, Ont. Over the past three decades, much of Bernardo’s time in prison has been spent in protective custody.
Under the current legislation, Bernardo, who is one of the country’s most reviled criminals, is eligible for a parole hearing every two years.
In victim impact statements provided to the parole board on Tuesday, the families of the two murdered teens argued that Bernardo is a psychopath and sexual sadist who should never be released from prison.
“We have had to accept what happened to our precious daughter, but what we cannot and will not accept is the possibility of this happening to another innocent girl by the same perpetrator,” French’s parents Doug and Donna said in their statement to the court.
“A psychopath must never be allowed in a position where he can repeat his atrocities.”
'The pain is a life sentence'
The couple said it has been a “painful and difficult process” to have to prepare yet another victim impact statement just two and a half years after Bernardo’s last parole hearing.
“It has taken all these years for us to deal with all the details of Kristen’s abduction, forceful confinement and murder; it’s been an agonizing time to accept all that she had to endure,” they said.
“For those who say that time heals, they don’t know the excruciating pain that comes from such a horrific loss. Time doesn’t heal the pain; the pain is a life sentence.”
The Mahaffy family also expressed frustration that they must relive Bernardo’s crimes every few years when he decides to apply for release.
"We so hoped to find peace but because of Bernardo’s brutal actions and his pornographic video taping of his sadistic violence, multiple trials and appeals and legal actions have been endured by us, never forgetting that what we have endured for decades could never compare to what Leslie endured," the victim impact statement read.
“Since the last parole hearing in October 2018, we have tried to forget about this dangerous offender’s existence and enjoy and remember everything about Leslie’s short and previous life. Yet once again, Bernardo’s desires are inflicted on us as he inserts himself into our lives again, forcing his horrors and terrifying memories upon us. It takes time for us to heal after and before each parole hearing.”
They argued that these hearings should be held five years apart “at a minimum.”
“The unnecessary re-victimization must stop,” they said.
“We would like to be free from worrying about the wretched possibility that Bernardo might escape the consequences of his actions, not only with respect to Leslie and Kristen, but also the many other victims of Bernardo’s brutally sadistic and violent rapes.”
Mahaffy was abducted by Bernardo and his former wife Karla Homolka on June 14, 1991 and the teen's body was discovered encased in cement in a lake near St. Catharines two weeks later. French was kidnapped and murdered nearly a year later in April 1992.
Homolka, who served 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, was released in 2005.
Speaking at the hearing, Bernardo said he believes Homolka was also his victim and she would not have offended it if weren't for him.
"I believe I ruined her life," he said.
He told the parole board that he has “a lot of empathy” for his victims and said that his violent actions were “out of entitlement.”
He added that at the time of his crimes, he saw women as "lesser than men" and "as sex objects."
"I didn't see them as equal people with feelings and emotions. I didn't have empathy," he said.
Bernardo, who is also known as the "Scarborough rapist," previously admitted to raping 14 other women and was convicted in the 1990 death of Homolka's 15-year-old sister, Tammy, who died after Homolka and Bernardo drugged and sexually assaulted her.
On Tuesday, Bernardo claimed he has "stopped all deviant sexual thoughts" and that he believes "without a doubt" he is a low-risk for re-offending, an assertion his parole officer denied.
The parole officer said Tuesday that he would not recommend full or day parole as Bernardo had not made any progress in mitigating his risk for re-offending.
Process ‘gut-wrenching’ for families of victims, lawyer says
Tim Danson, the lawyer representing both the Mahaffy and French families, told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that they found his speech at the hearing to be “sacrimonious” and “glib.”
“This speech that he gave that he has been subject to cruel and unusual punishment because of his lack of appropriate human contact is really a breathtaking submission coming from someone like him,” Danson said.
“If he really feels that it is important for his rehabilitation to have a lot more human contact... the families would have no problem at all of supporting an application for him to be transferred into the general prison population.”
He added that Bernardo appears to pursue these hearings simply for his own “entertainment.”
“We heard today, which I thought was interesting, that he has done nothing since his last parole hearing and he admitted to that,” Danson said.
“He didn't participate in any programs so that what's the purpose of putting the victims through something like this.”